My 8-year-old daughter and I gathered about 50 sticks and piled them up in the little hut my husband had built out of fallen tree limbs for her and her two younger siblings just behind our house.
“We’ll use them for pretend somehow,” my daughter told me in between marveling at a couple of oddly shaped rocks and a couple of twigs that seemed to finally be sprouting some leaves.
We had no plan when we came out here other than to simply escape our four walls for a little bit.
I turned away from her to gather a couple more fallen branches for her stash before turning around and finding her sitting on the edge of a big, broken branch.
She aimlessly pushed around leaves with her feet before she took her eyes to the sky and followed a squirrel making his way around a set of two neighboring trunks. She didn’t move for a couple of minutes as I sat back and let her have her moment.
I eventually joined her on the log and said, “What are you doing over here, honey?”
She laid her head down on my shoulder. “It’s just really peaceful out here, Mom” she said as she wrapped both arms around my one closest to her — where we would remain for the next several minutes without saying a word.
Peaceful … I thought about her word choice as we sat there taking in the chilly wind in our hair and the occasional sound of a bird chirping above.
It wasn’t a word I had used often lately — because frankly, the world seems anything but.
Complicated. Uncertain. Chaotic. Uncomfortable. Now those are words I’d use.
But she was right. It WAS peaceful. Getting away from the TV and social media. Getting away from the echo of toddler screams bouncing off living room walls. Getting away from ringing phones. Getting away from school work. And instead….stepping into our imagination. Getting curious about nature. Taking in the simplicity of the life of the birds and the squirrels. Taking in a moment TOGETHER.
There’s something about nature that settles the mind… that makes you forget about stress and “should do’s” and simply brings you back to simplicity.
And as we all navigate this thing together, I hope we remember to get outside and just “be.”
And to let nature give us the gift we all need right now … which is some peacefulness.
Brea Schmidt is a Pittsburgh-based speaker, photographer, and Iris-Award nominated writer who aims to generate authentic conversation about motherhood and daily life on her blog, The Thinking Branch Follow along with her messages of positivity and perspective on Facebook and Instagram .
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy believes that being outdoors and in the parks are a wonderful outlet if the stress and anxiety of the current situation is weighing heavily on you and your loved ones. Be sure to spend time outdoors to help decompress; explore a new trail, listen to the birds; read a book; play catch with your children. Be sure to follow all physical distancing recommendations from the CDC and avoid surfaces where the virus can live such as handrails and playground equipment. And be sure to wash your hands when you get home.